Keep Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Australia

Vic Country Hour

Libby Price

South Australian dairy cows.Photo: The dairy industry feels it is missing out because Australia lacks a free trade deal with China. (ABC TV)

The Victorian Government wants an Australian dairy company to win the bidding war for Australia’s oldest dairy processor, Warrnambool Cheese and Butter.

Three companies have made offers for WCB: Australian-owned Bega Cheese and Murray Goulburn, and the Canadian company Saputo.

WCB’s board has recommended shareholders take the highest offer, from Saputo.

Victorian Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh says the government won’t be subsidising any takeover, but thinks the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Foreign Investment Review Board should take into consideration that an all-Australian merger would be in the best interests of the dairy industry.

“It would actually be good to see them bulk up into being a powerhouse from a world point of view,” he said.

“Seven per cent of the international dairy trade comes from Victoria out of a number of companies.

“Instead of having that spread across a number of potentially multinationals owning part of it, let’s be proud about having a real major player here in Victoria.”